Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Why the gospel is important in the transformation process

Rom 8:6  "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,"

A very misunderstood passage of Romans 8 is this; Rom 8:4  "so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." The question arises. What does it mean to walk according to the Spirit? If you poll most evangelical pastors and teachers, they no doubt will tell you that walking according to the spirit, is trying your best, with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to live and obey the law. This again is an error.

Let's examine the first clause of Romans eight verse six; "for the mind set on the flesh is death." Paul goes on a little farther in this passage and states that the mind set on the flesh is at enmity with God, and that it can in NO WAY please God. Think about what this means. If I have my mind on the flesh to sin, or if I have my mind on the flesh for not sinning and for obedience sake, nevertheless, the mind is still on the flesh. This is precisely why Paul states that the law kills but the Spirit gives life. Reformation, with or without the Holy Spirit is a fleshly pursuit. The law focuses on controlling the flesh.

The contrasting clause,  "but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," tells what setting the mind on the Spirit means. The mind set on the Spirit is the mind set on the gospel of grace. The reason I know this is that Paul said in Romans 5:1 "having been justified by faith we have peace with God." The thing that brings peace is the gospel of grace. It is the only way one can be at peace with God. Likewise, the mind set on the Spirit is the mind set on the gospel. It is peace with God that the Holy Spirit uses to transform through love. This is precisely how faith works through love. Our faith works through the love of the Father producing in us supernatural love for the Father. This is the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

However, this can only work when one is completely free from the law for righteousness purposes. This eliminates the possibility of living the law by the aid of the Spirit. Do not misunderstand me. I am not advocating disregarding the law of God. I, like the Apostle Paul am opposed to using the law for righteousness. Paul said emphatically that Christ was the end of the law for righteousness. This forces one to get their righteousness from faith in Christ. This becomes the focal point of the importance of the gospel in the transformation process. Let me state the gospel clearly here: God, was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and he made Christ, the one who knew now sin to be made sin for the world, that in turn, we all might become the righteousness of God in Him. This brings peace with God, and in addition brings genuine love for God.

Now then, when one is resting completely in the gospel, completely relying on, trusting in, and adhering to the gospel of grace they then can use the law to inform them the content of the heart of God and can out of love begin to be more loving which is synonymous with law abiding. However, the minute the law is used to determine ones right standing with God, it becomes an instrument of spiritual death. This is precisely why Paul stated that the law brings death but the Spirit brings life. It is why he referred to the law (old covenant fashion) as the ministry of death. A proper understanding of the law should kill any hope in righteousness outside of faith in Christ. It should become apparent that no one is justified by the works or deeds of the law. Rather, one must completely trust in, rely on, and adhere to justification simply by God's declaration.

Let me reiterate: Having the mind set on the Spirit is having the mind set on the gospel of grace. This is precisely the reason that Paul advocated preaching the gospel over and over and over. One can never hear too much gospel. It is impossible. I don't care how seasoned the saint is. The meat is the gospel. The fact is that there are many levels in understanding the gospel, and to be completely convinced that we are made righteous because of God's declaration, and not our actions is ultimate maturity. This is precisely why Paul said that he determined to know nothing among the Corinthian believers save Jesus Christ, crucified.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Your redemption draweth nigh; Redeemed or Waiting?

Luke 21:28  But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”

Are we redeemed or not? This is a fair question to anyone who believes that the prophecies in Luke 21 are yet future and have not taken place. What things is Christ speaking of? The answer is all of the things listed in Luke 21 before that. Let's look at a bulleted list:
  • Nation will be raised up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
  • There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven.
  • They will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.  (13)  This will give you an opportunity to bear witness.
  • Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time,  (15)  for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.  
  • You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you.  
  • You will be hated by everyone because of my name,  (18)  but not a hair of your head will be lost.  
  • By your endurance, gain your lives.
  • “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near.  
  • Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those inside the city must leave it, and those who are in the country must not enter it,  
  • because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written.  
  • Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.  
  • They will be killed by the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
  • “Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  
  • People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  
  • Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  
  • But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”
The first thing to notice in the list is the way He used the word you. You is not some future generation. You refers directly to the audience hearing His words. Let me make this clear, when Jesus says you He does not mean the reader at a future time. He meant the people he was speaking the message too.

Secondly, one must accept the idea that unless this has begun, there is no redemption, and it is implied that redemption will come at the completion of the list.  When it begins redemption will be near and redemption will come on completion of the above conditions. It should be duly noted that in addition, unless the New Covenant is in force, Gentiles could not be Abraham's Seed as was pointed out in the last blog post. The reason being that they would have to be circumcised, and there is a lot of ink in the New Testament that explains that the Gentiles were not required to be circumcised.

Finally, Jesus explicitly states that "this generation" meaning the generation alive at the time of his speaking would not pass until all was accomplished. If you want to see more about this just use the search feature of the blog and put in "this generation." The fact is this. Redemption is here (present,) bought and paid for on the cross. The New Covenant is completely in force and the only covenant available. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

One Seed who is Christ: The importance of focusing on the New Covenant

Gal 3:14-16  "The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.  (15)  Brothers and sisters, I’m using a human illustration. No one sets aside or makes additions to a validated human will.  (16)  Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ."

John Reisinger has written an informative book entitled "The Four Seeds of Abraham." He posits that the four seeds of Abraham are these:
  1. Natural Seed (Isaac and Ishmael, the Jews and the Arabs.)
  2. The Special Natural Seed (Israel)
  3. The Spiritual Seed (All believers in all ages)
  4. The Unique Seed (Christ)
Paul has referred to these seeds/seed in the above passage. He is explaining how Gentiles can be included into the Abrahamic family without being circumcised. It is important to realize what was written in Genesis to understand what Paul is saying in the above passage. Gen 17:10-14  "This is my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you, which you are to keep: Every one of your males must be circumcised.  (11)  You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskin to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and you.  (12)  Throughout your generations, every male among you is to be circumcised at eight days old—every male born in your household or purchased from any foreigner and not your offspring.  (13)  Whether born in your household or purchased, he must be circumcised. My covenant will be marked in your flesh as a permanent covenant.  (14)  If any male is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that man will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” When you look at this passage from Genesis 17, it should be obvious to you that according to it, Gentiles could not be included in the promises of Abraham without being circumcised.

Paul's point is that the promise made to Abraham was really about the ultimate seed which was Christ Jesus. It is in Jesus, that "all the families of the world would be blessed." The only way that Christ can benefit the families of the world is through the New Covenant. Jesus stated in Luk 22:20  "In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." There can be no doubt. The New Covenant was instated at the cross event. Yet, it seems that the bulk of evangelicals teach a doctrine that is a mixture of the Old and New Covenants. A mixture of the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant will ALWAYS result in confusion and a schizophrenic view of the Law.

So then, either the New Covenant is completely in force or otherwise Gentile's could not be the children of Abraham unless they were descendant's of  Isaac or Ishmael. Yet Paul states this in Gal 3:26-29  "for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.  (27)  For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.  (28)  There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (29)  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise." All of this is based on Christ Jesus, and his faithful obedience to the Father. It is based on him being the ONE promised Seed of Abraham and the Israel of God. Jesus was the ultimate and last representative human. In the way, Adam was prototypical humanity... this same way, Jesus Christ is prototypical humanity and it is only that way in the New Covenant spoken of in Luke 22:20.

So what does this mean practically? Well, let's look to Jeremiah for the answer: Jer 31:33-34  “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the LORD’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  (34)  No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the LORD’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin." Jeremiah prophecies that Spirit will trump the letter, and not only will He forgive iniquity, He will no longer remember it. Two things should jump out at you immediately. Evangelical doctrine has the letter still trumping the Spirit and in evangelical doctrine, God still is remembering sin. The focus is on the law of sin and death, and not the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. The fact is simple according to Paul. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees one from the law of sin and death.

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus informs, and the law of sin and death demands. Let me repeat this for effect. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus informs, and the law of sin and death demands. The law of sin and death comes from a legal constitutional reading of scripture. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus comes from a solely redemptive reading of scripture.

When God created humanity, he said that it was very good (Gen 1:31.) That has always been God's perspective on humans. However, the knowledge of good and evil caused doubt and unbelief to set in. It is difficult for humans to believe that God accepts them as they are. Rather, the believe that there is a standard of behavior that will garner favor with God. They believe that it is written out in the law. Let me say this; the law does show God's highest and best hope for humanity. It is good to not steal, or murder. It is good to honor your father and mother. It is good to tell the truth. It is good not to covet and on and on. However, it is not good to try to accomplish these things to please God. Rather, when one discovers that they have been redeemed. That God is not remembering iniquity... not keeping score, it is easy to relax and simply, genuinely love God. Love for God will bring about ethics supernaturally. This is the importance of the gospel message... the good news that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself not counting sin against humanity.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A thorn in the flesh verses sufficient grace!

2Co 12:7-10  Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me--to keep me from exalting myself! [Job_2:6]  (8)  Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me;  (9)  but He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough--always available--regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness." Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.  (10)  So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God's strength].

Without Paul, Christianity would be very different. It is easy to say that he received more revelation knowledge than any other New Testament author. Without him we would not know about the one new creation. Without him we would not understand imputed righteousness, and the righteousness of God. Without him we would not understand that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. In short, without him we would not understand the gospel of God's grace!

With that in mind, read the above passage from second Corinthians. I used the Amplified version because I wanted to make sure the point was driven home. Third heaven revelation could cause one to be puffed up and proud. Certainly, if any first century saint would have a reason to be proud it would be Paul. But, he says that he was given a thorn in the flesh for that very reason. I think it is on purpose that we are not told what the thorn was. That is left to our imagining. This allows us to understand that whatever thorn we have been given, God's grace in the gospel of Christ is more than sufficient. 

Have you received third heaven revelation? If you have... I can guarantee that you have been given a thorn in the flesh. I don't know what that is but you do. What I want you to understand is that Paul shared this so that you too can believe that God's grace is sufficient for you. The definition for sufficient is adequate for the purpose, enough. Whatever the thorn, God's grace is enough to get you through. However much grace you need... that is the amount that is sufficient!

So many modern day prophet's, pastors, apostles, and evangelists seem to take pride in their ability to control the flesh. They want you to believe that they are better. If this is the case, be weary of the revelation! Let me repeat what I wrote above... THIRD HEAVEN REVELATION IS ACCOMPANIED BY A THORN IN THE FLESH! There is a good reason for this. It is to keep pride out of the equation.

The gospel of God's grace is sufficient for our every need. It is the thing that we should focus our attention on at all times. It is the source of our love for God. It is the source of our transformation. It is the source of our ability to love our neighbor as our-self.

Yes, I think there is "third heaven revelation" going forth in our time. Just remember as the accuser of the brethren tries to discourage you, tries to tell you you ain't all that... God's grace is sufficient and you need that thorn to keep humble!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Which are you pastor? Preacher of good news, or accuser of the brethren?

Rev 12:10-12  "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been thrown down.  (11)  They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives to the point of death.  (12)  Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows his time is short."

This is an interesting passage of scripture. It explains a spiritual reality that plays itself out day in and day out. I have thought for a long time that the "strong man," the term descriptive of Satan himself, is the demon of religion. It is the force that causes people to try to please God with their performance. It is the force that causes men and women to falsely believe that they have a certain quality that made God want to redeem and save them. The fact however is quite different. God wants to save humanity because he declared in Genesis 1:31 that they along with all his creation was VERY good. He also wants to save humanity because it was his purpose in creation. This is clearly stated in Ephesians 1:1-14. When it says before the foundation of the world, it means that it is the very first purpose we can understand about the overall purpose and plan of God. Before the foundation of the world is before creation so that passage clearly states that redemption was the purpose of creation, and it was to the praise of God's glorious grace.

This brings us to the above passage from Revelation 12 and the question I asked in the title. This passage in 2 Thessalonians is also directly connected to the above verses. 2Th 2:3-4  "Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.  (4)  He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s temple, proclaiming that he himself is God." The apostasy spoken of is departing from the gospel of grace for the leaven of the Pharisees. That happened in the first century just as was prophesied by Paul. He warned: Act 20:28-31  "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.  (29)  I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  (30)  Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them.  (31)  Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I never stopped warning each one of you with tears." Jesus similarly warned his followers about the leaven of the Pharisees. He went on in Matthew 16 to say that the leaven of the Pharisees was their doctrine/teaching. From the second century forward, after the destruction of the temple, the leaven of the Pharisees replaced the first century gospel, and became accepted church doctrine which in turn became the foundation for what we call orthodoxy today. Certainly there was a thin thread of truth that remained, but by and large the first century gospel was compromised. It is the thread of truth that allows so many saints to have the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of their redemption.

With over 30,000 denominations and all sorts of ministries started by divisions in doctrine it seems rather clear that something is amiss. Especially when these factions doubt the salvation of the others based solely on these differences, it is even more clear that something is wrong. Each one sure beyond doubt that they are right and that the other is wrong. Even further to the point, Paul stated that there was but one body, and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. The fact is that there are multiple examples of each. Not to mention the fact that there are several gospels. For one to believe there is nothing wrong, one has to blind oneself to the obvious.

Yet and still, a salvific thread of the gospel has survived. It is believed individually if not corporately, and has kept the Holy Spirit alive in people all over the globe. It seems obvious to me that the apostasy of 2Thess, and the leaven of the Pharisees of Matt 16, and the ravenous wolves of Acts 20:28-31 have indeed come to pass. Current evangelical doctrine is the strong delusion.

This brings us to the accuser of the brethren; Satan accuses the brethren day and night before God, but wait a minute... isn't that exactly what most evangelical preachers do? Sunday after Sunday they stand accusing. You don't do this right and you don't do that right and you are not pleasing God.... hmnn. The reality is that they have according to Paul the ministry of reconciliation. They should be proclaiming the gospel that humanity has been reconciled to God by Christ. They should be saying therefore, be reconciled to God. Why you ask? Because God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD to Himself that's why.

So again I ask, do you preach good news or do you accuse the brethren?

Friday, April 27, 2018

The truth about Presuppositions

I have in the past mentioned how important presuppositions are in scripture interpretation. Here is a comparison and contrast of the presuppositions of evangelical dogma in relation to the presuppositions of my paradigm shift. I think that there is good biblical evidence for my presuppositions. I also think that the presuppositions of evangelical dogma are not really that biblical, and in large part are responsible for all of the disagreement that exists within evangelical ranks.

Evangelical Presuppositions
Paradigm Shift Presuppositions
The Bible is the word of God
Under the Mosaic Covenant the Torah was the word of God. Jesus and his first century followers changed that to refer to the gospel, and Jesus the living gospel
The Bible is a legal-constitutional document
Under the Mosaic Covenant, the Tanakh (commonly known as the Old Testament) was a legal-constitutional document. Under the New Covenant, to the new creation, the scripture is the story of redemption and has a strictly redemptive salvific purpose. This too was taught by Jesus and his first century followers.
Eschatology is a future phenomenon.
The first century followers of Jesus saw eschatology as a first century phenomenon. They along with the first century Jews were expecting the end of the age and the beginning of the Age to Come, Olam Ha Ba in Hebrew
Jesus’ references to Gehenna was geared toward eternal torturous punishment
Jesus’ reference to Gehenna was geared toward the upcoming destruction of the temple, and the judgment of the first century Jews that rejected him as Messiah.
The New Testament is all directed at the church of Christ.
The New Testament document is a transitional document that moves from John the Baptist the last Mosaic Covenant Prophet, to Jesus the fulfillment of the Prophet, Priest, and King, whose earthly mission was strictly to the Jews, to Pentecost and a strictly Jewish church, to Cornelius and the inclusion of the Gentiles, to the apostle Paul who wrote to the one new man, the new creation. While this view is nuanced it is important in understanding the purpose of the scripture.
The Sermon on the Mount is the law of Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount was an amplification of the law of Moses showing the impossibility of gaining righteousness by living the law.
The transformation comes from believing the gospel and in turn being enabled by the Holy Spirit to live the law. Not perfectly but much better.
The transformation comes from hearing the gospel of grace over and over, and when the Holy Spirit confirms the fact that one has peace with God based on the gospel of Christ’s cross, this in turn results in love for God that translates to greater obedience to law principles out of love for God.

These presuppositions can all be reinforced by many scripture references. Further, it causes all of the conflict and contradictions to disappear.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Romans 12:2; "Do not be conformed to this present age" Important to the understanding of Transformation

Rom 12:2 CSB  "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God."

Anyone who thinks that there is no theological presuppositions brought to translating the scripture is simply, sadly mistaken. Here is a classic example. I have posted this verse from the Christian Standard Bible by Holman. Notice that it says "do not be conformed to this age." In all the other major translations it is rendered "do not be conformed to this world." The truth is that in the original Greek the verse is "do not be conformed to this age." This is really important in understanding the transformation process. 

What would "do not be conformed to this age" mean to the first century follower of Jesus? Well, it would mean something radically different than what "do not be conformed to this world" means to the average evangelical today. As I have stated time and again, it is important to understand the historical context to really understand the meaning of the author of the New Testament scripture. The first century Jews were expecting Olam ha ba, the age to come. They contrasted that with the present age. Jesus mentioned this age, and the age to come in Matt 12:32. So, the first century Jews and Christians would be very cognizant of the phrase, "this age," and "the age to come." To them, this age would mean the current religious system, and the age to come would be the Messianic Kingdom.

So Paul is really saying in Romans 12:2, "do not be conformed to this present religious system" but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; Renewing the mind to what? To the gospel of the Messianic Kingdom. This is indeed a very different meaning than is widely accepted in evangelical doctrine. Renewing ones mind to the gospel is the transforming agent. 

So now, lets look a little further into this verse. What about the word transformed? In the Greek it is metamorphousthe from the word metamorphoo which is where we get the word metamorphosis. The transforming is done by an outside force. It is only found in three scripture verses. One is where Jesus is on the mountain being transfigured, and the other is where Paul describes being changed in a moment in a twinkling of an eye. Make no mistake, Paul is not referring to a read and do change. Paul is speaking of a change that is done to us, and for us, by an outside force. It is not self reformation. 

So then, what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God? John 6:38-40  "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  (39)  This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day.  (40)  For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus came directly from the Father. He came directly from the Father to do the Father's will. He states unequivocally what the will of the Father is in this passage. The will of the Father is that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. Again, it is the will of the Father that people believe the gospel.

This is drastically different than the way that current evangelical dogma and doctrine looks at this passage. In that view, being conformed to the world, is being conformed to the world system and that is not what Paul was referring too at all. Being transformed is something done by the Holy Spirit apart from our own effort so it cannot possibly be renewing ones mind to scripture revelation, which is the current accepted understanding of renewing the mind. Let me state clearly what the meaning is again. Paul meant to not be conformed to the religious system of the day and that one should renew their mind to the gospel, which is the coming Messianic age. The current religious system was Judaism and temple worship. It was old covenant thinking. The coming Messianic age would be fully instated with the destruction of the temple.

In other words, the mind should be renewed to the gospel of grace.

Why the gospel is important in the transformation process

Rom 8:6  "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," A very misunderstood passag...